Carrie Lara, PsyD, has been working with children in various community mental health settings since 2005. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology through Alliant International University of San Francisco in 2009. Her specializations are working with children and families, child and human development, foster and adoptive youth, learning disabilities and special education, attachment-based play therapy, and trauma. Dr. Lara has had the opportunity to work in different socioeconomic and diverse communities professionally, and personally has a bi-cultural family. Both of these factors have deepened her understanding of the development of cultural identity and its importance. It is her hope that this book supports families having conversations about cultural identity during this very early stage in a child’s development of a sense of self.
Without further ado, the marvellous Carrie Lara!
What book(s) have you written? Marvelous Maravilloso is my first book actually, and I am excited to see it go from just a thought, to a dream and then reality!
What do you do when you’re not writing books? I am a clinical psychologist and I work with children and families. Currently I work as a Behavioral Health Manager at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa. I am also a mom and a wife, and my family is very important to me. As a family we like to go on adventures, be outside, but also be at home too.
How does it feel to be a published author? It feels awesome! Like a dream.
What children’s book was your favorite (or made the most of an impact on you) when you were growing up? There are so many books (I was quite the bookworm), but one I loved and still love reading to my own children is I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. We have it in both English and Spanish at home.
Any advice for new authors? Being new myself, I would say, just do it. Not to be cliché, but for me, I sat on it for a few years, and I think that when I finally said, “what the heck, I’ll send it in, the least they can say is no” – that is when it all changed. And don’t give up either!
What is your newest book about? This book is about a little girl learning about the world around her. From the perspective of about a 3- or 4-year-old, the little girl who has learned her colors, is now describing the world of colors that she sees. The grass is green, the ocean blue, the flowers are a rainbow. Included in her observation of color, she notes that people are also of different skin colors and in fact, in her own family there is different colors, and how the diversity of color and of people is beautiful.
What is your newest book really about? So, building on the previous question, the book looks at diversity through the lens of a small child, when the identity of self is initially forming. As a young child, identification of different objects by labels is part of learning. For example, an orange is identified by two labels, circle shape and orange color. Children are noticing everything and everyone around them, as the little scientists that they are, and the observation of skin color occurs at a very early age. The social construct of ethnicity or race, is also part of the development of identity. However, in the context of this book, the child is at a beginning point of this process, in that she has observed that she herself and others have varying skin color, and that makes us unique and beautiful. She is developing a positive sense of identity with the context of skin color. As she matures, more cultural factors will come to play as she identifies difference perhaps in the food she eats, music she listens to and language she speaks in comparison to friends. This book focuses on the beauty of a colourful world, and a diverse world of color.
What inspired you to write this book? My family’s experience as a bi-cultural family. My husband is from Nicaragua, and I am from the United States. When I wrote the book, I was thinking about my daughter at the time. We had a couple of experiences in which unfortunately, people were unsupportive of interracial couples, or made negative comments about race, and I was thinking what that would be like for a child who is only beginning their self-journey to experience or understand. Writing this book was my process of working through it.
What’s your favorite story from making this book? My daughter’s excitement each time I had an update, from it was going to be published, to the sketches of the characters, to the actual book coming to the door!
What made you want to publish with Magination? As a clinical psychologist and a member of the APA, Magination Press is where I started my exploration of the idea for publication. I felt that the context of the book was something that was beneficial for the venue of mental health, with the idea that it could be perhaps a tool for practitioners and parents to use in helping children.